The basics
THE USA: Essentials - Must read

Essentials: Why study in the USA?

Why study in the USA? Read why America is one of the most popular study destinations in the world.

Why study in America - Harvard

A global leader in technology, media, business and economic development, the USA welcomes increasing amounts of international students every year. One of the world’s most sought-out study abroad destinations, in 2011 a record 764,495 international students were enrolled in US colleges, rising to 819,644 in May 2013. Thinking of studying abroad? Let our overview of why you should consider studying in America help you decide which study abroad destination is best for you. 


Quality of education

Who can pretend they’ve never heard of HarvardMITColumbia or Yale? Most top American universities are household names all around the world both in academic circles and through the reputation of their alumni.

American education consistently scores highly in international ranks and quality surveys. In 2013, a Universitas 21 survey named the US Higher Education system to be the best in the world, based on investment by the government, research, international ties and production of an educated workforce. 35 of the world’s top 100 ranked universities in the 2013 QS Survey were American, with Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Harvard taking out top two spots respectively. In the 2014 Times Higher Education’s World Reputation Ranking, US universities took eight of the top ten places, with Harvard, MIT and Stanford taking the top three respectively. 46 of the top 100 in this survey were US institutions.

Students at American universities have the option to undertake studies across UndergraduatePostgraduateVocational and Doctorate levels, in virtually any subject area or professional field. 


General education model

American Undergraduate study programmes are based on the general education model, which means that students are required to meet basic academic standards across a range of general study areas such as writing, reading and numerical literacy. Students will take subjects not necessarily related to their field of specialisation, creating graduates who are more broadly educated and have a wider range of critical skills.

Students will complete a Bachelors Degree in a general area of study, such as Arts or Science, within which they need to nominate an area of specialisation known as their ‘major.’ You will always have the option to change your major, provided you meet the credit requirements of your study programme. This freedom to choose and engage with different areas of interest opens up a range of possibilities to students, and enables them to develop supplementary skills to give them a unique edge in the ever-competitive employment market.

This education model also takes pressure off students in determining a path they’d like to pursue professionally until they’ve gained some academic maturity, and have a better sense of their strengths and weaknesses.


Understanding American culture

It’s no secret that American culture has keenly influenced pop culture, social attitudes and values worldwide. Besides the global prevalence of Hollywood and brand juggernauts such as MacDonald’s and Gap, the very existence of the term ‘Americanisation’ only underscores just how widespread and influential ideas of American culture really are.

Whether in pursuit of the unique US College experience or seeking to verify what’s been seen on television, it makes perfect sense for students to flock Stateside to experience American culture for themselves.  In doing so, students will develop a unique international perspective, and be better positioned to understand the world around them in a much more complex way. Not to mention that they’ll be able to dispel a number of cultural misconceptions about America through their own personal experiences.


Graduate prospects

With a spectrum of job opportunities available across virtually any sector, many American cities are key international hubs in most professional fields, including media and communications, business, finance, economics and research. The US is known as a global economic superpower, with a number of key exports such as electronics, vehicles, aircraft and chemicals. The nation’s media sector is also the world’s most established, with American media outlets, film and television industries enjoying a global audience and being keenly influential in global cultural and social trends.

Despite the after-effects of the Global Financial Crisis, the job market in the US has recently shown significant growth.  Whilst the national unemployment rate this year rose to 6.7% from 6.6%, 175,000 new jobs were created in America in February 2014, following on from creation of 129,000 new positions the month before.

An international education is a key asset to any graduate’s CV, demonstrating skills of initiative, adaptability and academic aptitude to employers. American tertiary qualifications are highly regarded and recognized worldwide, and will without a doubt give you a unique international edge in the eyes of any employer.


So much to see

So you’ve probably seen a lot of America from watching Hollywood films, especially cities like New York and Chicago. You may have even visited these places while on holiday. But have you wondered what it’s like to actually live in these famous cities as a student? You’ll have a lot more time to explore and find cool places to eat, drink, shop and be entertained which tourists don’t know about – these are the places only the locals will know! That’s not to say you shouldn’t see famous sights like the Statue of Liberty or the White House; in fact they could become a part of your journey to class each day – just imagine!


Many extremes

America is a very large country which means there is a lot to experience but also a spectrum of attitudes and beliefs. This makes America a very complex country even if you feel like you’ve seen it all in films and television shows. For example, California is known for being progressive and liberal, while Nashville is considered rather conservative and traditional; meanwhile the music, food and ways of life will also be completely different. So while it might feel like you know a lot about the States, there’s a lot more to uncover.


Check out the following videos on studying in America:



Now that you’re inspired to pursue your studies in America, why not start browsing courses now?


Read more:

‘The US higher education system... simplified’

‘Tuition fees in the USA’

‘Applying to study in the US’

‘Applying for a US student visa’

‘Student accommodation in the USA’


Search for a course

Study level*
About Author

Why study in America - Harvard

Paul Ellett is the editor for Hotcourses Abroad. His role is to plan, produce and share editorial, videos, infographics, eBooks and any other content to inform prospective and current international students about their study abroad experience. When he's not thinking about student visas in Sweden and application deadlines, Paul is an avid fan of comedy podcasts and Nicolas Cage films.


'Study in the USA' eBook

Enjoy what you’ve read? We’ve condensed the above popular topics about studying in the USA into one handy digital book.